Quick Start Guides (mini-manual) -Reply

Subject: Quick Start Guides (mini-manual) -Reply
From: Bill Sullivan <bsullivan -at- POWERWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 19:24:38 -0400

>What is your experience with quick start guides? >What about using a
PowerPoint presentation? How can I improve upon the guide?


Basically, your customer buys your software on a CD and has to stick it into the right drive and run setup.exe. A "Quick Start" Guide is a little 4.75x4.75-inch publication that takes 12 to 16 or more pages to say that!

But like taxation and government bureaus, there seems to be justification for just about every imagineable excess. You can improve your guides by insisting they be kept as simple and short as possible. Look at each and every proposed new paragraph and ask: Can these words be placed elsewhere?

You probably will want to add system requirements. If your software is supported by a multitude of platforms, you will want to list the platforms and any particular requirements. If network communications and such things are involved, you may start needing to list things like NETBIOS, TCP/IP, and such like. And if you are dealing with UNIX platforms, you might find it a nice gesture to provide mount commands.

I don't know why you would use PowerPoint. I do know why you might want to use PageMaker, because QS guides are like little ads or brochures or newsletters and you should spend more than the usual amount of time policing your widows and orphans. For our most recent guide, we used Interleaf, but I turned the word processing and formatting over to a couple of people who are much more skilled at Interleaf than I am.

Last week in Cincinnati, I was thinking the STC competition should have a separate category for Quick Start Guides and CD booklets. They are quite a different genre than ordinary manuals or help.

Bill Sullivan

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